The following is an excerpt of an interview I did with Forrester research on their topic of Enterprise Architecture Career Paths:
Forrester asked “If I’m a manager, one of the things that would be helpful for me to know is what the different levels of a career path are, and how do I find the right persons and bring them in to begin with? What are some key skills or characteristics that you see being necessary for a successful architect?
My answer was as follows: “That actually was the basis of my entire book. I did a section as well as an entire talk on how to find architects. I called it ‘Mining for Architect Skills’. It was about excavating within your company for the people that have currently those skills.
One of the top things on my list is what you mentioned: somebody that has a vision but is able to take that vision and carry it forward. Somebody that has already has those kinds of skills. Typically the skills that go along with that, are people that are open to having multiple perspectives, and as well being VERY strong in soft skills.
So specifically, they are strong especially in communication and presentation, and leadership. They’re politically savvy, they’re culturally aware. Culturally, we mean not necessarily we’re talking about respectful of multiple nationalities but I mean company culture. Understanding where to push, how to extract things, who to talk to, how to behave, how to accept the way the culture is moving within the company.
Also somebody that’s able to really see the vision, and at the same time they’re able to have a good handle on being able to drill down to get details. They see the big picture and they see the potential and possibilities about where an enterprise or an organization could move if they had a really good symphony between their business and their business goals and strategy and the technology that supported it.”
Forrester then asked “What about the technical side? Are there specific skills or certifications?”
My response: I’m a bit of an anti-certification kind of girl. I think that certification is purely for companies who feel it’s necessary when hiring consultants and it’s for employees – in that it just helps them move around from company to company. I don’t think that certification does a lot of justice, and it’s purely just because I’ve seen an awful lot about these certification programs and I don’t have a huge amount of respect for very many of them, especially one of the leading ones but I think that technology-wise, it depends on what your needs are.
We talked about the various levels within the career path. If I’m looking for contributors, I recommend to most companies that they do have somebody that has a core strength in vision and high level perspective and that’s the person and that is putting that enterprise program together. They really want to have the 3 strong people around them, somebody that has proven expertise in solution architecture, information architecture and technology architecture or infrastructure. Each would be really strong in their respective domain and then practicing at the enterprise level.
They would have a really broad understanding of the technologies that the company is using and they are able to go deep in at least one or two of the most prevalent technologies that are used. Not deep in the sense that you would sit down in front of a console and reconfigure hardware as an example, but they could have a conversation with the top two levels of technicians in the company and they would be able to understand what is being recommended and make decision around those recommendations.
For this entire interview, fill out the form on the right, and you’ll get access to listen to the entire interview. You will gain access to the full written transcript on the direction of career paths of IT architecture within a company, and the state of careers within the industry.